With 1,246 islands dotting the Croatian coast and a rich seafaring history, Croatia is one of the most popular sailing destinations; and for good reason. Sailing enthusiasts from across the globe opt for the azure Adriatic as their preferred spot to set sail due to its desirable winds, charming ports of call, and where a sailor can surely find a secluded bay to lay anchor for a private dip. Sailing brings you the closest to the elements as you can get, without compromising on the luxuries. Before releasing your mooring in the safe marina, get familiar with the many Adriatic winds so you are prepared out on the spectacular waters.
Anyone born near the sea in Croatia has been brought up, from a very early age, to recognize the different winds that blow. Actually, ‘Adriatic winds’ is a compulsory topic in an elementary school curriculum for coastal kids. Croats can wake up in the morning, look out the window, give it a feel, maybe a sniff, and they’ll tell you what wind is blowing and what’s going to happen next.
North East (NE)
This is probably the most famous of the winds, and certainly the coldest and powerful. When this high-pressure wind comes tumbling down towards the sea from the mountains, it gains momentum, often reaching gusts of 80 knots. Bura is an air cleanser so those with allergies will appreciate the work it does; housewives are fans too, as the clear skies and cold wind-provide speedy drying of laundry. Bura blows a cold wind under sunny skies often lasting for several days but the last Buras of the winter season should blow in March, and it is believed that if three days of Bura occur in this month, the summer will be warm, without interruption. When Bura sails, you don’t!
When the northern Tramuntana wind blows, it is usually an indicator that extreme weather conditions will follow, most commonly Bura. The Tramuntana itself usually lasts for a day and can be quite unpredictable and shifty, generating large waves…so beware on the waters.
Levanat is a moderate traditional wind that, in wintertime, occurs when Jugo (Sirocco) turns to Bura and in summertime, it is a breeze in the morning that turns into the favorable Maestral. Levanat is most prone to blow for a couple of days in a row from February to March bringing clouds and rainfall. Levanat brings good sailing conditions although it is not so popular as it is usually a very cold wind.
Jugo a.k.a. Sirocco
South East (SE)
The Jugo is a low pressure, warm wind, not as strong as the Bura, that blows onto the Adriatic the African Sahara. It causes high and choppy waves, with showers in between; quite depressing really, especially as it can last for more than two weeks!…. Actually, Jugo is usually to blame for bad moods and bad behavior in Croatia. If someone notices you are having a bad day, they’ll as “Južina?” referring to the wind. All you need to do is nod and you are forgiven for your sins that day. The Jugo wind is blamed for everything from low work productivity, headaches, mental breakdowns, and a broken leg. Previously, in the old Republic of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia, no laws were passed on a day of Jugo, and criminals who had murdered would be pardoned if they had committed their crime on a day of Jugo.
The powerful Lebić usually brings high-tide, abundant rain, and wild waves and is known to destroy many south facing beaches and coastlines. Lebić sometimes comes after Jugo or after the passing of a cyclone and tends to last a few hours only.
West South West (WSW)
The Punenat is a rare and unfriendly wind, more popular in the northern Adriatic, and you can forsee it coming is it takes form in very unusual phases. Firstly, the sea and wind with be almost at a stand-still, then clouds form from the west, followed by gusts, and then once again there is the “quiet before the storm” before Punenat pays a visit with high waves and extremely dangerous conditions, particularly in longitudinal channels. A powerful Punenat tends to creates havoc on west facing beaches and promenades.
Maestral is the favorite summer wind for all leisurely sailors meandering down the Adriatic. This refreshing breezy wind kicks off around noon (allowing you to sleep in before starting your daily sailing adventures) and backs off before sunset, just in time to berth at a quay prepare for dinnertime. Maestral blows during the summertime and can at times reach up to 30 knots.
North East (NE)
Burin is another favorite during the summer months; a thermal wind that usually blows during the evenings and night hours. Burin blows in the almost the same direction as the infamous Bura but at a much more pleasant force.
With a variery of winds blowing along the Adriatic, Croatia is a an all-year sailing destination for sailing enthusiasts but the leisurely sailing season kicks off in Easter and by May, the Maestral starts attracting the crowds.
You are all set on your Croatian wind terminology, so which Adriatic sailing route are you taking? Happy Sailing!